Mini Magazine - - Tech -

Q My Mini has an oil leak from the near­side of the en­gine. I thought it was the tim­ing chain cover at first, but this seems dry, so I’m think­ing it’s prob­a­bly the gear­box seal that’s at fault. It’s only a fairly re­cent build so this is rather frus­trat­ing. I re­mem­ber when it was built I couldn’t get the gear­box seals with the stiff metal part in­side them. How­ever, I now see that these are once again avail­able from Mini Spares. Can these re­ally be fit­ted with­out re­mov­ing the ‘box? Could it be done with the en­gine in the car per­haps? Ge­off

A Yet an­other small in­di­vid­ual com­po­nent that has suf­fered at the hands of in­cor­rect re-man­u­fac­ture. For the past I don’t know how many years now, I have been cut­ting a bit off the ends of the flex­i­ble U-seals that come in gas­ket sets be­cause they are too long. The prob­lem is that, if you’re not care­ful when fit­ting them as they come, the ends get trapped be­tween the gear­box cas­ing and block/ main cap joint, pre­vent­ing a per­fect seal. And this hap­pens even when co­pi­ous quan­ti­ties of go­rilla snot (RTV sil­i­cone) is ap­plied. It’s just rub­bish that such com­po­nents can be so badly copied, and it hap­pens to gas­kets too. It’s like they are be­ing scanned or pho­to­copied, then scanned into ma­chines that pro­duce the tool­ing to make them. Some siz­ing er­ror takes place and what you get is slightly out-of-kil­ter com­po­nents that re­quire your phys­i­cal at­ten­tion to get them to fit prop­erly.

That metal re­in­forced seal was orig­i­nally pro­duced by Rover so that the seal could be re­placed with en­gine/box still in the en­gine bay, not re­quir­ing the gear­box to be split from the en­gine to mas­sively re­duce the cost of war­ranty claim costs. They could be ham­mered into place af­ter the leak­ing one was prised out. Ac­cord­ing to friends who used to work in Rover garages, they were told to use a large amount of go­rilla snot as well. And un­doubt­edly the job was charged out at ‘book time’ for the full re­moval, split and re­place­ment for those out of war­ranty. I have not seen or used the Mini Spares re­pro­duc­tion ones so can not di­rectly com­ment on how good they are, or oth­er­wise. And of course the only prob­lem with us­ing loads of sealant is the pos­si­bil­ity of any ex­cess fall­ing in to the gear­box and po­ten­tially re­duc­ing the flow or even block­ing off the oil pick-up pipe. To an­swer your ques­tion though, it should be pos­si­ble to fit them with the en­gine in situ – just don’t use too much sealant and keep a close eye on the area in the fu­ture.

Rigid gear­box seals can be fit­ted in situ.

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